The Sanctity of Marriage:
Out of a growing concern on the part of your pastor and Board of Deacons, the following statement is an expression of our basic opinion on Christian marriage and divorce:
The Sanctity of Life:
We, the pastor and the Board of Deacons of Grace Baptist Church of Millersville, acknowledging the sovereignty of God and His absolute authority over all living things, believe:
God is gracious, forgiving, and compassionate; when an abortion does occur, the pastor and Board of Deacons will seek to minister in compassion and love to the individual. The pastor and Board of Deacons will continue to guide prayerfully the individual in the healing process.
We believe that abortions are ungodly and to be abhorred. Abortions should be rejected as an alternative by those who have accepted God’s gift of eternal life. Furthermore, we submit that as Christians, we should speak out regarding our beliefs and offer truth to counter the worldly rhetoric surrounding the issue.
The Sanctity of Sexuality:
Regarding the issue of homosexuality, it is the position of the pastor and the Board of Deacons of Grace Baptist Church of Millersville:
The church should minister to homosexuals, admonishing them to repent of their sin and aid those who wish to have victory over it (1 Thess. 5:14; Gal. 6:1).
Any attempt to legitimize homosexuality as an alternative life-style through legislative or executive action is unworthy of Christian support and should be actively opposed.
Approved by the Board of Deacons
December 22, 2003
On the basis of our relationship with Jesus Christ, God has made us accountable to one another. One of the ways the local church expresses this accountability is through church discipline. While the word “discipline” refers broadly to all of the training provided by the church to help believers grow in the faith, the phrase “church discipline” usually has a negative emphasis, describing actions by the congregation that may result in dismissal from membership.
Church discipline is a confrontational process done, not out of anger or revenge, but in love and with the hope that an unrepentant member of the congregation will confess and renounce their sin. Scripture describes church discipline in Matthew 18:15-17, 1 Corinthians 5:1-11, Galatians 6:1, 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15, 1 Timothy 1:20; 5:19-20, Titus 3:9-11, Hebrews 12:1-14.
Scripture enjoins followers of Christ to “cover sins” (Proverbs 10:12; 1 Peter 4:8). By “covering sin,” we believe the Bible calls us, as much as possible, to forgive unilaterally minor faults, unverifiable sins, and personal offenses. By covering another’s sins, a believer chooses to forgive without confrontation, demanding an apology, or mentioning the matter to the offender or anyone else in the congregation. This is the norm for much of our interaction with one another.
Matthew 18:15-17 provides the basic pattern for church discipline when covering the sin is insufficient to deal with the offense. For example, if the offense has significantly damaged a relationship between believers or become so disruptive that it harms the church, attempting to forgive unilaterally is unwise. The offended person must first discuss the matter privately with the offender in hopes of reconciliation. If the offender refuses to confess and ask for forgiveness, the offended believer must choose again either to forgive or to proceed in the discipline process.
The second step involves taking another member (or two members) along to discuss the offense with the offender. Should this bring no positive result, the offender must report the matter to the entire congregation. This will be done through the leadership of the Board of Elders. After the congregation is informed and if the offender fails to repent, the church is responsible to dismiss the offender from membership. The unrepentant offender will not be eligible to serve in the congregation nor will he or she be served the Lord’s Supper.
Members of the church must recognize that such public announcements, while extremely unpleasant, are mandated by Scripture as part of the church’s responsibility toward each believer.
In cases of flagrant, public sin, the issue may be dealt with immediately and directly by the Board of Elders. The ultimate decision of dismissal must come from the membership.
Church discipline is a serious matter that involves weighty sins. Grace’s constitution offers three reasons why someone may be dismissed from church membership: failure to attend services for one year, flagrant sin, and deviating from Scriptural teaching as summarized in the doctrinal statement.
The author of Hebrews says that discipline is a painful, not a pleasant, experience. For the good of the church and the glory of God, we affirm our commitment to this biblical practice.
Approved by the Board of Elders
January 22, 2007